Ashington FC manager Steve Harmison was pleased with his side’s second half showing despite the 2-1 defeat by Ebac Northern League first division pace-setters Shildon at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday.
The reverse was the Colliers’ fourth at home this term, but the boss took plenty of positives from the clash – after criticising his players for a lack of belief.
“I think we have worked hard, but in the first half, we lacked a bit of belief that we could play against one of the top, top sides,” he said.
“We got done by two well-worked set pieces, to be fair.
“It was a good strike from the free-kick by Lewis Wing and good movement on the corner from which Gary Brown netted the second.
“We have held our own and come into the game second half, during which we played well, and given a good account of ourselves.
“We pushed when we realised that we could do it. When we do that, we shouldn’t fear anyone in this league.
“Things are not going our way at this moment in time, and it’s another sob story, but there were a lot of positive things we have taken out of the game.
“We have got Ollie Hodgkiss some time on the field.
“Michael King hadn’t played for three to four months, and he got 20 minutes and looked a threat after he came on.”
“I thought Michael Dixon had a very good game, while the back four did well.
“Scott Blandford came in at the final hour to play right full-back, and I thought James Harmison and Matty Grieve were excellent.
“I felt that in the first half, we maybe just stood off a little while Shildon moved the ball well, and their movement was excellent.
“We made a little tinker at half-time to combat that and were well and truly the better outfit in the second half.
“But it’s about results and we stand still in mid-table in the league.
“This is what we have got to change – the mentality of where we are at the minute and feeling sorry for ourselves because we have got so many players missing.
“The dressing room has loads of people in, but there are so many not available to us.
“Kyle Oliver just wasn’t quite ready, Dylan Williamson is going to be out for a couple of weeks and Liam Atkin for another week.
“James Taylor is still to come back, then there is three or four others on top of that.
“First half, I don’t think the lads quite believed they could go and beat Shildon.
“Second half, we had belief in abundance, and every time we went forward, we looked threatening.
“Kyle Hayes and Conor Grant, the respective keepers, haven’t had too many saves to make, and we’ve huffed and puffed, and it was a good game of football, but again we have lost.
“Shildon have got experienced players, whereas we have got some youth and naivety.
“I think we will only get better and better the longer we stick together. If not, we are going to be a mid-table side.
“If we get that belief inside us, then we can climb the league, and that has to start now.”
The boss described the clash between James Harmison and Shildon striker Paul Connor as being the battle of the day.
“I thought Gary Brown had a good game for Shildon today, but so too did Ben Harmison, who is a handful,” he said.
“However, I thought it was a great duel between James Harmison and Paul Connor – a Northern League contest and two players who play the game the right way.
“Both gave as good as they got, and I thought it was the battle of the day and that’s what the NL is about.”